Saturday, 8 September 2012



The disciplic succession or guru-parampara is continued by the spiritual master's genuine disciples. In other words, the disciplic succession relies on disciples who follow the orders, the conclusions, the siddhanta of the sampradaya-acarya. The disciplic succession never relies on ecclesiastical arrangements for authorizing "gurus" or initiating new generations of disciples. Srila Prabhupada never told his disciples to initiate their own disciples in his mission, and thus he never offered any instructions in this regard. Rather, he carefully trained genuine disciples, like Sriman Jayananda Prabhu, to preach the pure siddhanta of Krishna consciousness, as humble messengers of Lord Caitanya's mission and humble servants of the Spiritual Master.

"I am the initiator guru, and you should be the instructor guru by teaching what I am teaching and doing what I am doing. This is not a title, but you must actually come to this platform. This I want." (Letter, August 4,1975)

Srila Prabhupada: "Only Lord Caitanya can take my place. He will take care of the movement." (Conversation, November 2, 1977, Vrndavana)

Reporter: "Have you chosen a successor?"
Srila Prabhupada: "My success is always there. Yes. Just like the sun is always there." (Conversation, February 12,1975, Mexico City)

"One should not try to be an artificially advanced devotee, thinking, 'I am a first-class devotee.' Such thinking should be avoided. It is best not to accept any disciples." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 7.130, Purport)

"One who thinks he is guru becomes goru [cow]." (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, essay)

"If everyone just initiates, then there will only be a contradictory result. As long as it goes on, there will be only failure." (From Phalguna Krishna Pancami, Srila Prabhupada's 1961 poem honoring the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.)


Srila Prabhupada personally established in his mission a system whereby he has continued formally initiating new disciples through deputed priests. This system should always be followed in institutions established by Srila Prabhupada and in institutions representing the mission of Srila Prabhupada and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. (See Appendix: Conversation July 7, 1977, Vrndavana; Srila Prabhupada's final will, June 1977; and Srila Prabhupada's last directive on initiations, July 9, 1977.)

"My Dear R-, Please accept my blessings. Just now I have received some more requests for giving first initiation ..., and now I am receiving weekly not less than ten to fifteen such requests from new students. So it is becoming very expensive to send so many sets of beads such a long distance, and it has become a little bothersome for me also, so I think now you may be appointed by me to give first initiations to new disciples by chanting on their beads on my behalf. In America K- is doing that. So now if there are two of you, that will give me great relief. K- will chant on the beads for new devotees in America, Canada, like that; you can chant on the beads for the European continent, new disciples. They shall, of course, still be considered as my disciples, not that they shall become your disciples, but you will be empowered by me to chant their beads and that is the same effect of binding master and disciple as if I were personally chanting." (Letter, January, 4,1973)

Disciple 1: "Then our next question concerns initiations in the future, particularly at that time when you are no longer with us. We want to know how first and second initiation would be conducted."
Srila Prabhupada: "Yes. I shall recommend some of you.... I shall recommend some of you to act as officiating acaryas."

Disciple 2: "Is that called ritvik-acarya?"
Srila Prabhupada: "Ritvik. Yes."

(Conversation, May 28, 1977, Vrndavana) (See also: Conversation, July 7,1977, Vrndavana; Srila Prabhupada's last directive on initiations, July 9,1977.)

Srila Prabhupada: "Hare Krishna. One Bengali gentleman has come from New York?... So I have deputed some of you to initiate. I have already deputed... So, deputies... J's name was there?"
Disciple: "It is already there, Srila Prabhupada. His name was already on that list [of deputies in the July 9th directive, stating Srila Prabhupada's authorized system for initiations ' henceforward' ]."

Srila Prabhupada: "So I depute him to do this... This initiation; I have deputed my disciples. Is it clear or not?"
Disciple: "It's clear... We will explain to the Bengali gentleman, just as you have described to us, so that he'll be satisfied with this arrangement." (Conversation, October 18, 1977, Vrndavana)


Persons initiated according to the sadhana established by Srila Prabhupada and fixed in following his instructions are bona fide students or disciples of Srila Prabhupada. (See "Sadhana")

"Sisya means [one] who accepts the ruling of his spiritual master, and disciple means also the same thing—[one] who becomes disciplined by the spiritual master." (Lecture, September 12,1969, London)

Srila Prabhupada: "Who is my disciple? First of all, let him follow strictly the disciplined rules."
Disciple: "As long as one is following, then he is ..."
Srila Prabhupada: "Then he is all right."(Conversation, June 13,1976, Detroit)

"He lives forever by his divine instructions, and the follower lives with him." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, Dedication, 1962)


The primary aim of missionary work done by Srila Prabhupada's bona fide disciples is to help everyone hear from, worship and serve Srila Prabhupada and in this way learn the complete science of Krishna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada's mercy and instruction provide the only sure way for everyone to participate in the sankirtana mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and attain perfection in this life.

"...devotional service to the Lord is so powerful that it can cleanse the hearts of the people in general, by the devotional service of the pure, empowered devotee. A true representative of the Lord like Narada, Sukadeva Gosvami, Lord Caitanya, the Six Gosvamis, and later Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, etcetera, can deliver all people by their empowered devotional service." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.8.5, Purport)

"Knowledge should be taken from the perfect person—because if you take knowledge from a person who is defective, your knowledge has no value. You must take knowledge from the perfect." (Lecture, April 12,1974, Bombay)

"Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you, because he has seen the truth." (Blwgavad-gita As It Is 4.34)

"By the mercy of the spiritual master, one receives the mercy of Krishna. Without the grace of the spiritual master, no one can make any advancement." (Sri Sri Gurv-astaka, Verse 8, by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura)

"The path of spiritual realization is undoubtedly difficult. The Lord therefore advises us to approach a bona fide spiritual master in the line of disciplic succession from the Lord Himself." (Bhagavad-gita As It Is 4.34, Purport)

"The spiritual master is the mercy representative of the Lord. Therefore, a person burning in the flames of material existence may receive the rains of mercy of the Lord through the transparent medium of the self-realized spiritual master. The spiritual master, by his words, can penetrate into the heart of the suffering person and inject knowledge transcendental, which alone can extinguish the fire of material existence." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.7.22, Purport)


An acarya or diksa-guru in the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya is, by definition, a fully self-realized pure devotee, or uttama-adhikari, free from all defects or imperfections. In other words, such a guru is a fully liberated soul. A Vaisnava acarya, or diksa-guru, being liberated and self-realized, is never deluded or confused in any circumstance and never forgets Krishna even for a moment. The idea that a Vaisnava acarya or diksa-guru may become fallen or degraded is apasiddhanta, a severe deviation. Such offensive ideas run contrary to Srila Prabhupada's teachings and the conclusions of the Vedic scriptures.

"A bona fide spiritual master is in the disciplic succession from time eternal, and he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord..." (Bhagavad-gita As It Is 4.42, Purport)

"The spiritual master must never be carried away by an accumulation of wealth or a large number of followers. A bona fide spiritual master will never become like that. But sometimes, if a spiritual master is not properly authorized and only on his own initiative becomes a spiritual master, he may be carried away by an accumulation of wealth and large numbers of disciples. His is not a very high grade of devotional service." (Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 14)

"A first-class devotee never deviates from the principles of higher authority...." (Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 3)

"There is no possibility that a first-class devotee will fall down..." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 22.71, Purport)

maha-bhagavata-srestho brahmano vai guru nrnam
sarvesam eva lokanam asau pujyo yatha harih:
"The guru must be situated on the topmost platform of devotional service. There are three classes of devotees, and the guru must be accepted from the topmost class... When one has attained the topmost position of maha-bhagavata, he is to be accepted as guru and worshiped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 24.330, Purport, citing Padma Purana)


Persons who insist on posing themselves as acaryas or diksa-gurus—and who thus neglect Srila Prabhupada's clear instructions on this matter—are, in truth, jealous imitators with no substantial connection to Srila Prabhupada's mission. Serious devotees should neglect such self-styled pretenders, their foolish promoters, and other materially contaminated individuals.

"A jealous person in the dress of a Vaisnava is not at all happy to see the success of another Vaisnava in receiving the Lord's mercy. Unfortunately in this Age of Kali there are many mundane persons in the dress of Vaisnavas, and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has described them as disciples of Kali. He says, kali-cela. He indicates that there is another Vaisnava, a pseudo-Vaisnava with tilaka on his nose and kanthi beads around his neck. Such a pseudo-Vaisnava associates with money and women and is jealous of successful Vaisnavas. Although passing for a Vaisnava, his only business is earning money in the dress of a Vaisnava. Bhaktivinoda Thakura therefore says that such a pseudo-Vaisnava is not a Vaisnava at all but a disciple of Kali-yuga. A disciple of Kali cannot become an acanja by the decision of some high court. Mundane votes have no jurisdiction to elect a Vaisnava acarya. A Vaisnava acanja is self-effulgent, and there is no need for any court judgment. A false acarya may try to override a Vaisnava by a high-court decision, but Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that he is nothing but a disciple of Kali-yuga." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 1.220)

"If a Vaisnava, by the mercy of the Lord, is empowered by Him to distribute the Lord's holy name all over the world, other Vaisnavas become very joyful-that is, if they are truly Vaisnavas. One who is envious of the success of a Vaisnava is certainly not a Vaisnava himself, but an ordinary mundane man... A mundane person in the dress of a Vaisnava should not be respected but rejected. This is enjoined in the sastras (upeksa). The word upeksa means neglect. One should neglect an envious person..." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 2.218, Purport)

"As soon as a foolish disciple tries to overtake his spiritual master and becomes ambitious to occupy his post, he immediately falls down. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto pi. If the spiritual master is considered an ordinary man, the disciple surely loses his chance to advance further." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.12.14, Purport)

"...gurusu nara-matir ... naraki salt: One who considers that the spiritual master is an ordinary human considered a naraki, a candidate for hellish life." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 6.294, Purport)

"One is forbidden to regard the spiritual master as an ordinary human being (gurusu nara-matir ... naraki sail). The spiritual master, or acanja, is always situated in the spiritual status of life." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.4.24, Purport)

"Presently people are so fallen that they cannot distinguish between a liberated soul and a conditioned soul." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.18.5, Purport)

"If one tries to mingle the worship of yogamaya with mahamaya, considering them one and the same, he does not really show very high intelligence." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 8.90, Purport)

"Intermingling the spiritual with the material causes one to look on transcendence as material and the mundane as spiritual. This is all due to a poor fund of knowledge." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 16.72, Purport)

"One may try to support his philosophy by joining some caste or identifying himself with a certain dynasty, claiming a monopoly on spiritual advancement. Thus with the support of family tradition, one may become a pseudo-guru or so-called spiritual master... All these are pitfalls of personal sense gratification. Just to cheat some innocent people, one makes a show of advanced spiritual life and becomes known as a sadhu, mahatma, or religious person." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 19.160)

"Influenced by an envious temperament and dissatisfied because of an attitude of sense gratification, mundaners criticize a real acarya. In fact, however, a bona fide acarya is nondifferent from the Personality of Godhead, and therefore to envy such an acarya is to envy the Personality of Godhead Himself." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 1.46, Purport)


Because Srila Prabhupada is the most confidential and empowered servitor of Lord Caitanya, all learned devotees or Gaudiya Vaisnavas in this age worship Srila Prabhupada on the same level as Lord Krishna Himself. All Hare Krishna temples conduct daily worship of Srila Prabhupada, both at mangala-arati while worshipping the Deity and again separately during the daily guru-puja program, as per the principles of sadhana ordained by guru-sastra-sadhu and authorized by Srila Prabhupada personally.

saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair,
uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih:
"The spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord, because he is the most confidential servant of the Lord This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities." (Sri Sri Gurv-astaka, Verse 7).

"Just like Krishna can be present simultaneously in millions of places, similarly the spiritual master also can be present wherever the disciple wants. A spiritual master is the principle, not the body. Just like a television can be seen in thousands of places by the principle of relay monitoring." (Letter, May 28, 1968)

"The guru must be situated on the topmost platform of devotional service. There are three classes of devotees, and the guru must be accepted from the topmost class... When one has attained the topmost position of maha-bhagavata, he is to be accepted as guru and worshiped exactly like Hari, the Personality of Godhead. Only such a person is eligible to occupy the post of a guru." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 24.330, Purport, citing Padma Purana)

"It is recommended that one honor the spiritual master as being on an equal status with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair. This is enjoined in every scripture. Acaryani mam vijaniyat. One should consider the acarya to be as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In spite of all these instructions, if one considers the spiritual master an ordinary human being, one is doomed. His study of the Vedas and his austerities and penances for enlightenment are all useless, like the bathing of an elephant. An elephant bathes in a lake quite thoroughly, but as soon as it comes on the shore it takes some dust from the ground and strews it over its body. Thus there is no meaning to the elephant's bath." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.26, Purport)


Srila Prabhupada and our predecessor acaryas—particularly Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura—have encouraged and blessed the Krishna consciousness movement, the worldwide sanga of Lord Caitanya's devotees. This sanga cooperatively preaches Lord Caitanya's mission in all corners of the globe, following the directions of the Six Gosvamis and serving the mission and teachings of the self-effulgent acarya, our Founder-Acarya, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is sad-guru and jagat-guru, the eternal guru for all his followers and the guru for all the world.

mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimuktes: "One can attain the path of liberation from material bondage only by rendering service to highly advanced spiritual personalities." (Srimad-Bltagavatam 5.5.2)

naisam tnatis tavad urukramanghrim / sprsaty anarthapagamo yad-arthah
mahiyasam pada-rajo-'bhisekam / niskincananam na vrnita yavat:
"Unless they smear on their bodies the dust of the lotus feet of a Vaisnava completely freed from material contamination, persons very much inclined toward materialistic life cannot be attached to the lotus feet of the Lord, who is glorified for His uncommon activities. Only by becoming Krishna conscious and taking shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord in this way can one be freed from material contamination." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.32)

"No one should think that this Krishna consciousness movement is a new movement. As confirmed by Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is a very, very old movement, for it has been passing down from one Manu to another... Krishna consciousness, based on the nine principles of devotional service (sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam pada-sevanam, arcanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam atma-nivedanam), will never be stopped. It will go on without distinction of caste, creed, color, or country. No one can check it." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.28.31)

"A person who cannot keep his faith in the words of his spiritual master but acts independently never receives the authority to chant the holy name of the Lord. It is said in the Vedas: yasya deve para bhaktir, yatha-deve tatha gurau, tasyaite kathita hy arthah, prakasante mahatmanah: 'Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.' This Vedic injunction is very important, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu supported it by His personal behavior. Believing in the words of His spiritual master, He introduced the sankirtana movement, just as the present Krishna consciousness movement was started with belief in the words of our spiritual master. He wanted to preach; we believed in his words and tried somehow or other to fulfill them, and now this movement has become successful all over the world. Therefore faith in the words of the spiritual master and in the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the secret of success. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu never disobeyed the orders of His spiritual master and stopped propagating the sankirtana movement. Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, at the time of his passing away, ordered all his disciples to work conjointly to preach the mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu all over the world. Later, however, some self-interested, foolish disciples disobeyed his orders. Each one of them wanted to become head of the mission, and they fought in the courts, neglecting the order of the spiritual master, and the entire mission was defeated. We are not proud of this; however, the truth must be explained. We believed in the words of our spiritual master and started in a humble way- in a helpless way — but due to the spiritual force of the order of the supreme authority, this movement has become successful." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 7.95-96, Purport)

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